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Square Peggy


Elisabeth Moss in the first season of Mad Men.  

Moss had a similar experience with prosthetics this season, only with fat padding instead of scar makeup. (Warning: I’m about to spoil a major plot element of the whole first season, so just rent the damn thing, will you?) As each episode progressed, Peggy got pudgier and plainer, eventually strapping on a prosthetic belly and a wobbly set of double chins (not to mention sausage curls so unflattering they were practically peyos). For months, viewers debated the psychology of all this: Peggy was clearly overeating, desexing herself in the face of the predatory men who surrounded her. She was separating herself from the herd of femininity. Her fat was a kind of armor—or wait, was she pregnant? She couldn’t be pregnant, could she? Wasn’t she on birth control? Wouldn’t she know? Wouldn’t we? And then in the last episode, soon after scoring that radio account, she went into labor, having gotten knocked up—presumably by Pete, the rich-kid weasel she’d let into her apartment mere days before his wedding.

Weiner had informed Moss about the pregnancy plot early on, but told none of the other actors or crew what was happening, other than Hamm. “I just started showing up on set, getting larger and larger,” she says. “I remember walking by John Slattery”—who plays partner Roger Sterling—“and he did a classic double take.” A few episodes into AMC’s airing of the series, a close friend from New York took her aside and “asked very tactfully if they were doing anything different with my makeup on the show.”

How could someone as smart as Peggy not realize she was pregnant? “She literally just does not look at it,” Moss says. “Or, oh, maybe she sees it, but she just kind of puts it out of her mind, in the deepest, darkest place, and doesn’t look at it again.” We can all identify with that, she adds.


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